North American Int’l Auto Show
DETROIT – In the next six months, Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar brand will decide on how many new models it wants in its lineup and whether it wants to offer them at a lower price point than the XF.
New product could include a cross/utility vehicle, says Adrian Hallmark, new global brand manager, and eventually a sustainable supercar that utilizes the gas-turbine technology Jaguar unveiled in the C-X75 concept at the Paris auto show in September.
“There is a risk that it might work,” says Hallmark of the electricity-making turbines that produce 790 hp for the concept car’s four electric motors. Tata has purchased 20% of the U.K. company that is developing the turbines, Bladon Jets Ltd.
Hallmark, who came to the British auto maker from Saab Automobile AB earlier in January, says at the North American International Auto Show here this week he is at the beginning of his analysis of the Jaguar brand and the segments it could enter.
Jaguar presently offers three cars: the XF, XK and XJ introduced last year. It also has a fourth, unspecified, product in the works.
A turbine-powered supercar is unlikely in the next five years. But a road-going CUV along the lines of the Audi Q7 would not be out of place in the Jaguar lineup, even though Tata also owns Land Rover, known for its rugged SUVs.
Customers don’t have Land Rover in mind when they ask why Jaguar doesn’t have a CUV, Hallmark notes.
The executive believes Jaguar vehicles should offer designs that are “provocative but beautiful,” with an ambience that is sensual but not of the extreme sports-car variety – unless the C-X75 comes to life.
And while Jaguar needs to electrify its powertrains and reduce the mass of its vehicles to reduce fuel consumption, the technology should be hidden under the car’s other attributes, Hallmark says.
While he has not yet decided in which segments Jaguar should have new models, he is sure the brand’s present annual volume of 50,000 units must at least be doubled.
“We need a broader image,” Hallmark says. “There is no doubt that Jaguar is an aspirational brand. The only debate is whether it is too aspirational.”
Clearly, Jaguar is considering some products that would sell at a lower price point. The idea of a CUV, Hallmark says, is being considered for “below or within the current (price) range.”
The key to growth is consistency of investment, he adds, suggesting Jaguar’s failure to grow under Ford Motor Co.’s ownership was that vehicle programs were abruptly started and stopped.
That said, Hallmark admits Jaguar’s newest models developed under Ford, the XK and XJ, fulfill his idea of what Jaguar needs to be, and he praises designer Ian Callum for doing “a brilliant job.”
Although Jaguar sales volume slipped 0.9% in 2010, Hallmark says it was a very successful year, considering the entry-level X-Type was eliminated from the range and the new XJ only became available at the end of the year.
For 2011, Hallmark says a 10% increase in volume would be reasonable.